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How to get started in Germany

The following steps are most important to get started. These steps are mainly intended for students and scientists from abroad and should be a support to get along with the German authorities.

Contact a German Embassy or a German Consulate in your home country or country of residence. Please, apply in time, because it takes several weeks for a visa to be issued. Foreign scientists require a multiple entry visa for the Federal Republic of Germany . This detail is important, because with a simple tourist visa you are not allowed to work. The People&Culture Department at UFZ will send you an invitation letter for the embassy.
Exceptions are citizens from EU countries and the EWR countries Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, who do not need a visa to enter Germany.

Citizens of the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Canada, Israel and South Corea do not require a visa to enter Germany as a tourist either, but they must apply for a residence permit within the first three months after their arrival in Germany in the appropriate Foreigner´s Registration Office. This takes time and you have to count with at least 2 weeks until you are allowed to work. Alternatively you can apply for visa with a work permit at a German Embassy before starting your travel to Germany.

Please, check in time with the staff of the People&Culture Department at UFZ or your scientific host to find out whether you need to bring any specific documents with you. This could include, for example, your university diploma or birth and marriage certificates. It is best to bring certified translated copies of these documents with you rather than have translations done on the spot. 

More information concerning entry visa: Overview of visa requirements/exemptions for entry into the Federal Republic of Germany

Someone from your department should be able to guide you around the UFZ and show you the important things you have to deal with: e.g. access to computer and an E-mail-account, an entry card for UFZ and the canteen. Your contract is available at the People&Culture Department and has to be signed before you commence working at UFZ. If you come from abroad with a visa, the contract will last as long as the Visa is valid. After your arrival in Germany you should get a Residence Permit at the Foreigner´s Registration Office.

If you stay longer than 3 months, you have to register at  so-called "Bürgerbüro" (Resident Services Office) within the first six weeks after your arrival. For the registration you need the affirmation of your landlord (Wohnungsgeberbestätigung), your passport and the completed registration form. The registration office will automatically forward your data to the tax office and you will receive a tax identification number by post. This number is the basic for your further tax class. The tax class system in Germany is quite complicated. By the end of the year you have to do the Lohnsteuererklärung  ( wage tax return) and it is worthy to inform about. Some general information in English (contributed by the Welcome Guide of the Leipzig University) you find here:

Tax return (En)

You can find the application forms for the registration at inhabitant´s office here:

To open a bank account you need the proof of residence (from Step 3 above) and a valid passport. Have a look at webpages of the different banks or ask your colleagues for recommendations. Some common banks in Germany are:

Kreissparkasse Leipzig (many ATMa in all over the town)
Deutsche Kreditbank (free use of ATMa worldwide)
Deutsche Bank (English webpage and English speaking service)

During your stay in Germany you must have health insurance. There are many companies in Germany, either compulsory or private ones. If you can get some private health insurance in your home country for your stay in Germany, it is best to check with the German Embassy or Consulate, if that insurance is accepted. For the authorities in Germany it is always important to have these documents in German language. So, please, have prepared a translated proof of health insurance. If you stay longer than one year, it will be more appropriate to get German health insurance after your arrival. Most of the companies are available on the Internet and some of them have an English speaking service. Some common compulsory health insurances are: Barmer Ersatzkasse BEK, Techniker Krankenkasse TKK, Allgemeine Ortskrankenkasse AOK etc. If you have any questions about health insurances, please, ask our personnel service at the People&Culture Department.

Additionally you can find some further information about health system and insurances in Germany:

Health Insurance Guide Germany

Substitutive private health insurances for scholarship holders:

Health Insurance for International Scientists

All guests staying for less than 3 months with a valid visa for that period do not need to apply for a residence permit in Germany. All guests staying for over 3 months need to obtain a residence permit.

There are different permits according to their purpose:

  • Residence permit for studying, e.g. PhDs with scholarship (§ 16b AufenthG /Residence Act)
  • General employment (§ 18a and 18 b AufenthG /Residence Act)
  • Highly-skilled employment (§ 18c Abs.3 AufenthG/ Residence Act)
  • EU Blue Card (§ 18b Abs.2 AufenthG/ Residence Act)
  • Residence permit for research (§ 18d AufenthG/ Residence Act)

You can also check online the German Residence Act/Aufenthaltsgesetz (also available in English)

Apply for your residence permit as soon as possible!  As far as you have your documents completely you will get a preliminary affirmation about the issued residence permit. This document you should send to your responsible officer at the People&Culture department. Your employer needs this permit to sign your guest or working contract.

In Saxony-Anhalt the procedure is similar.  At any rate the printing process of your card will take about 4-6 weeks and you can ask them for a preliminary affirmation of your permit so that you can sign your contract. Please, check below address and opening hours for the Foreigner´s Offices Halle and Magdeburg.

Due to the AKZESS programme we have English speaking contact partners at Foreigner´s Office. You should compile your application and send it by traditional post or via their online-system to the Office. After a while you will be invited for a personal interview. Information and documents you find in English on their webpage.

In case of difficulties, please contact: Barbara Timmel


If you work and live in Halle, you should contact the secretary of your department to get some help :

Their contacts you find on the UFZ Intranet.

Foreigner´s Office in Halle

In difficult cases, please contact: Barbara Timmel


If you work and live in Magdeburg, you can also refer to your responsible department secretaries, who will able to support you in administrative issues. Their contacts you find in the contact list of UFZ-Intranet.

Foreigner´s Office in Magdeburg

In difficult cases, please contact: Barbara Timmel

Further information